To celebrate the seventh World Series title by the Giants — five happening in New York and two now in The City by the Bay — I thought we’d look at the best seven moves before and within the 2012 baseball season. You’ll probably have your own list, the rankings being a little different than mine, perhaps. I’ll start backwards from the honorable mentions, then from number seven and move on to what I see as move number one.
Honorable Mention (in no particular order)
Skipping Madison Bumgarner’s NLCS start
Jose Mijares pickup
Finally giving Belt a chance
“Closer by committee”
Extending control of Matt Cain
#7 — The Spring Training Invites
Namely, that of Gregor Blanco and Joaquin Arias, two guys that were merely names on a roster for those of us looking at the invitees, and admittedly, not taking them very seriously. This team would not have been the same though without these guys in 2012. Gregor Blanco replacing Melky Cabrera, Joaquin Arias being a decent replacement for when Pablo was out and Crawford was struggling. Both of these guys also have highlights where they have been immortalized into Matt Cain’s perfect game: Gregor Blanco’s diving catch which not many other people make, and Joaquin Arias fielding the final out with that shuffle to his right and then gunning it over to Belt for the end of that wonderful game.
#6 — Jonathan Sanchez for Melky Cabrera
So Melky Cabrera wasn’t a part of the last third of the baseball season, but maybe more importantly Jonathan Sanchez was not a part of the Giants rotation this season. How long would the Giants have put up with Dirty in the rotation or in the bullpen before possibly dumping him for nothing? Jonathan Sanchez became the problem of the Royals, then the Rockies. It wouldn’t be fair to say Dirty’s horrible performances for both squads would have been exactly the same for the Giants, but some had a feeling the intangibles would start to catch up with him. He will always have his part in 2010 lore, but like our next subject was for his old team, it was time for Jonathan Sanchez to go.
Angel Pagan had worn out his welcome in New York, and to give them two 2010 heroes for someone they wanted out seemed like a fair deal for both squads. Angel Pagan with his sometimes odd routes to the ball, had his contract year, and Andres Torres played like 2011 Andres with Ramon Ramirez being much less effective than during his time with his previous three clubs. Sometimes a change of scenery can do good for a player, and for Angel Pagan, I think it’s fair to say it worked out here.
#4 — Setting of the 25-man roster at the beginning, and the end of the regular season
People worried at both the beginning and end of the season that the rosters would not utilize all the talent an MLB roster had to offer, and the Giants much to the relief of bloggers, felt the same way we did in who was the best 25. There was a feeling that the best 25 were on the roster when all was said and done at both the beginning and end of the season, with the only question mark being Melky Cabrera. If we had it my way (boy that sounds snobby), Melky would’ve been on the bench at the very least, but I’m not going to go on a criticizing spree since everything worked out.
#3 — Signing Ryan Vogelsong to an affordable 2-year contract with a 3rd year option
Two years and eight million, with a $6.5MM option for a third year to the deal or a $300K buyout for Vogey. Taking a gamble on the Rally Enchiladas has been good since 2011, and if he keeps this up, he will be an even bigger steal of a pitcher. Here are some names that had worse ERA and FIP than Ryan Vogelsong in 2012: Tim Hudson, C.J. Wilson, Yovani Gallardo, and Edwin Jackson to name a few. All four are names you’d rather not go up against, and all four are getting Paid. I guarantee Ryan Vogelsong would cost more than $5MM for 2013 if the Giants had only gone one year on him going into 2012.
#2 — Putting Tim Lincecum in the bullpen
This could be a potentially ground-breaking move for the Giants, since Timmy could not really find his stuff in 2012 but in the Postseason all of a sudden the Cy came back. The Giants unfortunately really don’t have a candidate in-house to take Timmy’s spot in the rotation right away and $22.25MM is a lot to pay for a super-reliever, but if that’s what it takes to get him back, I believe he can still have incredible value easily leading the league in games appeared.
Sure Jonathan Mayo loves Culberson, but most people don’t love him enough to say he will definitely be the everyday infielder for the Giants, and thus, Sabean and co. made what ended up being the trade of 2012. Dodger fans mocked the deal, thinking that Sabean reacted to the Dodgers making a blockbuster trade of their own. You don’t just do trades to do them, the Giants clearly had a hole at 2B, and Scutaro was one of those “lightning in a bottle” candidates for the Giants. For now, the crow on the plates of Dodger fans in their mouths is hot and fresh, and “Blockbuster” helped carry the Giants to their second title in three years.
Sorry I couldn’t put this in slideshow format if that’s your thing. Feel free to put your top 7 in the comments or tell me on the twitter or FB or whatever!